Mar 28 2014 10:15am

David A. Trampier, the Illustrator Who Defined the Look of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Has Passed Away, 1954-2014

David A. Trampier

The Southern Illinoisian, the regional paper for Carbondale, Illinois, has listed an obituary for David A. Trampier, the artist responsible for defining the look of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, from the first edition and onwards.

Trampier was doggedly reserved throughout his life, to such an extent that most D&D fans know his work more than they know his name. He disappeared in 1988, leaving his ongoing comic D&D Wormy abruptly unfinished, and retired from illustration to drive a Yellow Taxi in Carbdondale, Illinois. (The above photo from 2003 is one of the only pictures ever snapped of Trampier.)

According to the Castle Perilous Games & Books store blog, Trampier suffered a stroke late last year but was considering convention appearances and some illustration work in the future. You can read further details in their recollection and see more about his work here.

Thank you, David Trampier for bringing character and life to a gaming series that means so much to so many.

Take a look at Trampier's iconic illustrations below:

David A. Trampier Advanced Dungeons and Dragons art

David A. Trampier Advanced Dungeons and Dragons art

Fred Zimmerman
1. Fred Zimmerman
Some very influential graphic design! Thanks for posting this.
Irene Gallo
2. Irene
Trampier was a huge part of my own sff orgins-story. I used to copy his drawings as a kid. I was a bit too young to try and keep up playing D&D with my older brothers, but I loved drawing from the manuals and making characters, and painting the minitures. So thanks, David. I owe you kinda a lot.
Joe Monti
3. JoeMonti
Ah, the elusive Trampier. Thanks for making anything seem possible from your crazy juxtapositions amidst a set a set of 3d6 rolls. I hope you know you were appreciated, and that you have a coil of rope with you.
Fred Zimmerman
4. JohnCJ
The 5th picture down is not one of Trampiers, but rather a piece by Jason Edwards in homage to Dave's famous "Emirikol the Chaotic".
Fred Zimmerman
4. Jim K.
"Lokerman the Awful" is an image by another artist in the style of Trampier's original "Emirikol the Chaotic". You should find the original easily and remove the other.
Fred Zimmerman
5. Phil Ward
I think that Lokerimon the Lawful is "After Trampier" from Goodman games, are you not thinking of Emirikol the Chaotic?
Fred Zimmerman
6. M Bad
Lokerimon the Lawful is not a Tramp illustration, but a take-off on his classic "Emirikol the Chaotic" illustration in the original Dungeon Masters Guide. It shows his standing in the genre that this illustration was one of the most copied by those wishing to show Tramp's influence on their art...
Jack Flynn
7. JackofMidworld
Lizardman, wererat, goblin, salamander, rakshasa...yeah, I remember those pics very well. Sorry to hear of his passing.
Walker White
8. Walker
I remember scouring through the Monster Manual, looking for that DAT stamp. He was always my favorite of the original artists, more than Erol Otus.
Fred Zimmerman
9. Longarms
Was always a fan of his work, particularly the rakshasa.
Fred Zimmerman
10. jere7my
Damn. Always hoped he'd make a comeback.

Check out the Bolotomus on the rakshasa's desk — a little nod to "Snit Smashing" and "Snit's Revenge."
Fred Zimmerman
11. AnthonyG
My first appreciation of art came from D&D, The monster manual, and the Fiend Folio. DAT was the spark that helped me develop my imagination. Thank you, D.A.Trampier, I hope your next character will be just as awesome as your first.
Deana Whitney
12. Braid_Tug
Wow. He shaped my teen years and I did realize it.

Sad to hear of his passing. Thoughts to his family and loved ones.
Fred Zimmerman
13. Ted Fauster
I can't even begin to describe the influence David's art had on my life. People forget that early gaming materials could only be found in hobby shops. There was no Internet. Every book you could get your hands on was precious, and David's magic had a home in many. His illustrations significantly inspired me to be the writer I am today. He will be missed. R.I.P. DAT
Fred Zimmerman
14. HowardC
Like Irene, I used to copy his drawings. I remember wondering who DAT was.
Bridget McGovern
15. BMcGovern
@4-6: Thanks, all! We've removed that image from the post.
Fred Zimmerman
16. DJ Jason
So sad. I loved those illustrations as a kid.
17. hoopmanjh
Even though I have most of them in the original magazines, I would pay so much money for a collected Wormy.
Jim Fallone
18. jfallone
I used to stare at Davids work on the covers of AD&D first edition books in my office at TSR as we worked on trying to make branding 2nd and 3rd edtion books achieve the same level of iconic status as his corebook covers. I think we managed to capture some of David's essence with the help of the great Jeff Easley covers on 2nd Edition but by the time we were bought by Wizards of the Coast that tie to David and the "old testament" of the work done in Lake Geneva seemed to be broken and the work done from Seattle became more of a "new testament" - no less iconic but different and evolutionary. So many fantastic and influentioal artists worked on D&D over the years but few can illicit that primal feeling of reverece and nostalgia that David's original work does. It is nice to think he has achieved a level of imortality, forever a part of the iconography of the game and a wonderful monument for generations of his family.
Fred Zimmerman
20. s jank
My hero, his art work lead me to some of my happest moments and best friends in my life.
j p
21. sps49
DAT and his peers were not nearly as polished as those published in later books, but are more memorable to me for their raw impact. Like the difference between a well constructed sentence and a monosyllabic, grunted word.
Fred Zimmerman
22. Katz
A iconic part of my 37 years of Dungeons and Dragons. It makes me sad to think Wormys story will never be finished. Gods speed DAT and thank you.
Fred Zimmerman
24. frpdm
WOW... just found out about this from a fellow RPG'er. These were some of my favorite portraits and made D&D what I'll always remember. My condolences to the family, friends and followers of such an artist. You will always be remembered and respected. Now... roll for surprise...
Fred Zimmerman
25. Matt Graham
In third grade, my favourite things were my NES, a blonde girl in my class named Jessica Cremisino, and my AD&D Monster Manual. I did not play AD&D. The manual was given to me by a fifth grader who stole it from his brother. It was the art of David A. Trampier, who signed each entry as DAT or Tramp, that lured me in. This changed my life in two profound ways: I wanted to draw amazing things, and I never stepped out of that fantasy world. In fact, it just opened more doors resulting in a lifetime of spacing out and wondering what else is out there. It was my gateway.

I am saddened by the news of David Trampier's passing. I used to pore over the pages and take in every detail of the illustrations. Many of them kept me awake in the middle of the night in fear and wonder. I used to covet that book like a shoplifted copy of Playboy. His art has a real texture to it, like a woodcut. I remember the cold and scaly Lizardman, the lurking gar, the seductive Lamia, the stylish pipe smoking Rakshasas, and hungering Rat-Men.

I lost that Manual somewhere along my life, but I spent so many years studying that world and its inhabitants, I can see all of Trampier's illustrations in my head the moment anything related to dungeons or monsters crosses my path.

Thank you, DAT.
Fred Zimmerman
26. Raven Amos
I was a big fan of Wormy growing up, but it wasn't until later in my adult life that I was able to look at the incredible inked artwork he did for the various D&D handbooks and modules. I did my own humble tribute to him, posted below on my DeviantArt page.
Fred Zimmerman
27. Reifyn
Thank you for writing this post: the comments alone have been worth it to read, especially Matt Graham's. The Wormy comic continues to inspire my own illustrations & his technique is almost flawless and uniquely his own.

Strange that this happened at this time...I have been wanting to move to the mid-west and researched a number of places to move to. One that I really liked was David's latest hometown. I wondered where I'd heard the name of that city before, then I recalled the famous article about him in a newspaper there about 12 years ago. I then secretly harboured the notion of trying to hire him to give me art lessons to improve my own work...I may still move there at the end of summer. It is so strange that Tramp died so near the possibility of my at least being able to tell him how much his work has meant to me & others like me.

Farewell, Tramp! I can see Wormy & his friends taking their hats off in front of a little monument with a single candle burning on it and bowing their heads.

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